For the inaugural edition of Six Questions we are joined by Farah Rose, the editor of the forthcoming Mantid Magazine. Mantid is a publication with heart, specializing in giving a platform to marginalized voices in the speculative/ weird fiction community (women, LGBTQA, people of color, and the differently-abled). We are so happy she took the time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for us.
What inspired you to create Mantid magazine?
Mantid Magazine is a passion project for myself and our small team, stemming from our love of the genres we intend to include in the publication (horror, weird/new weird, dark science fiction, dark fantasy, magic realism, and more). We also share the goal of making the genre fiction community, and specifically weird fiction, more welcome to innovative narratives and authors from diverse backgrounds. There are many literary zines catering to horror fiction, and of course a few notable ones that serve as the go-to for the weird. Our hope is that Mantid will stand apart from these, not only by serving as a platform for new voices and advocating for them, but by creating a community of people with common interests and goals who will pursue the expansion of the fiction world further into the future.
Would you describe the sort of challenges you face in bringing Mantid to fruition?
The greatest challenge has been the lack of funding, which naturally creates a host of problems when trying to create a print publication. We initially intended the magazine to be much like the obscure Euro art zines of former decades, but this effort is proving to be a challenge!There is some magic to holding something in your hands, and we aren’t giving up on that version of Mantid. We are grateful that we can offer the magazine in an online capacity. We hope to offer print publications by request, should the magazine gather enough interest.
What has been the response to Mantid from creators? From fans of the subject matter?
The response has been extremely positive on a larger scale than initially anticipated. Like with anything else in the horror/weird community, or any community for that matter, the response depends on the type of person that you are. There will always be those eye-rollers who don’t want to concern themselves with what they disparagingly call the “social-justice” aspects of artist inclusion, but we pay no mind to the naysayers. The way we see it, if someone doesn’t want to read innovative fiction, no one is forcing them to read it. Anyone who tends to see inclusion as a nuisance probably won’t want to read our magazine, and that’s not really our concern. We are producing this project for those who will enjoy it, who seek a positive coming-together of uniquely incomparable minds.
Another issue has been our difficulty in procuring artistic/fine art content, due to our current financial constraints. Artists deserve to be fairly compensated, so we are holding off on certain aspects of the magazine until we can hold up that belief. Writers and artists deserve to be paid for their work, and there really is no valid excuse to not do so, though we acknowledge that this is a virgin effort and our team isn’t swimming in gold, by any means. That is why, for our inaugural issue, we seek people who believe in the overall mission of the magazine and are willing to be involved with the hope of their participation being an investment for the future.
It seems that the weird fiction community is a bit insular, has this hampered your efforts to get marginalized voices heard?
Absolutely. It’s incredibly insular and this creates a degree of hostility that generally keeps diverse authors and narratives out of circulation. This is what we are trying to change. It’s going to take more than one art zine, but one has to start somewhere. A lot of people adhere to the “can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen” mentality, but personally, I’ve always preferred the “can’t stand the heat, build your own damn kitchen” viewpoint. There has been a lot of talk about what can be done to make the community more inclusive, and the answer is not that difficult. Create creative platforms. Invite people in. The difficulty comes in actually making the effort and following through, which few do. It takes a lot of work, but it’s more than worth it. We are on the periphery of a new age, birthing a vanguard of artistic inclusion, and people from all walks of life need to know that the doors are open for them to take part. There will always be those stalwart pissants who want none of it, but even sentinels wither.
Are there any themes, tropes, etc. that you would like to see more of from the weird/speculative fiction community?
At Mantid, we don’t intend to limit the scope of our contributors’ visions, any more than we wish to prod them in any particular direction. There are themes and tropes that I could speak to, but as I don’t wish for people to think I see myself a representative of any diverse body (I don’t), I would rather leave those discussions to those who have been more actively rejected from genre fiction communities. I think there are stories that people want us to see and hear, and even if completely new themes/tropes don’t arise, unique viewpoints of old things are truly invaluable and too-often rejected from traditional zines.
Similarly, I think one of the immediate complaints people have when discussing their fears of artistic inclusion is the censoring or devaluing of older works. We hope that we are creating a space where the unheard be heard, where we can build upon the themes, tropes, and stories of the old and usher in the new. Literary coexistence is a pivotal aspect of artistic inclusion. Where would we be without the literary works of the past? The Mantid Magazine Team has great respect for the works of the forefathers of the weird, and we recognize that for the genre to survive, there must be an expansion.
Now that Mantid Magazine has secured the funding to proceed with an electronic edition, can you tease us with what you have in store for the premiere issue?
We’re keeping it under wraps for now! But we will be revealing the cover of our Winter 2016 issue in the coming weeks, so we will share that with you when it arrives. We have a wide range of fiction, articles, and art that we look forward to building upon. Our submission deadline remains open until December 1st, and guidelines for submissions can be found on our Facebook page. We hope to launch the E-zine on January 1st, so be on the lookout for that.
Thank you so much for letting us speak with you about Mantid Magazine!
It was a pleasure! Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.
For more information, check out the Mantid Magazine page on Facebook.
Farah will be joining Kim, Steve, and Rodney on Microphones of Madness Saturday, December 5, 2015.